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Taslima Nasrin Escapes Bangladesh

by Matt Cherry

The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 15, Number 1.

World-famous secular humanist writer and feminist Taslima Nasrin has escaped the threat of hanging by Muslim fundamentalists in her native Bangladesh. As SHB was going to press, news came of Nasrin's dramatic flight to freedom in Sweden.

In 1994 Muslim militants had issued a fatwa-a Muslim religious judgment-demanding the execution of Nasrin for her criticism of Islam. The Bangladeshi government at that time had also issued a warrant for Nasrin's arrest on the grounds of alleged blasphemy.

The controversial poet and journalist escaped Bangladesh in 1994, but returned in September 1998 to take care of her dying mother. A campaign of demonstrations against Nasrin and renewed calls for her murder forced her once again into hiding. The Council for Secular Humanism mounted an international campaign to ensure the safety of Dr. Nasrin, a Senior Editor of Free Inquiry magazine (see Free Inquiry, Winter 1998/99, for more information and an in-depth interview with Taslima Nasrin.)

Nasrin's mother died on January11, 1999. On January 24, Nasrin phoned Warren Allen Smith-who had coordinated the secular humanist campaign in her defense-to tell him she was now safely in Sweden. Nasrin had the assistance of the European Union's ambassador in escaping from Bangladesh, she said. She told Smith, "I had no other alternative but to leave. . . . It is very comforting to know that so many have been concerned about me."

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This page was last updated 12/04/2003

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